sequential star formation
diseš-e peyâye-yi-e setâré
Fr.: formation séquentielle d'étoiles
The formation of second-generation stars in a → molecular cloud, as triggered by the presence of → massive stars. The observation that some nearby → OB associations contain distinct, spatially separate subgroups of → OB stars in a sequence of monotonically changing age led Blaauw (1964, ARA&A 2, 213) to suggest that star formation in fact occurs in sequential bursts during the lifetimes of the corresponding molecular clouds. The first quantitative model of this mechanism was presented by Elmegreen and Lada (1977, ApJ 214, 725), who showed that the powerful ultraviolet photons of the massive star create an → ionization front which advances in the molecular cloud and is preceded by a → shock front. The compressed neutral gas lying between the ionization and shock fronts is gravitationally unstable and collapses in time-scales of a few million years to form a new generation of massive stars. The propagation of successive births of OB groups would produce a chain of associations presenting a gradient of age. Elmegreen and Lada estimated the propagation velocity to be 5 km s-1. For a region with a length larger than 100 pc, this would imply an age difference of the order of 20 million years between the extremities. See also → stimulated star formation, → triggered star formation; → collect and collapse model.